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What does it mean to be “baptist”?

TLDR: It’s baptism!

I don’t consider myself “baptist.” I still don’t like the connotations associated with being baptist, including a dark history of racism, and other problems. For that reason I probably wouldn’t have “baptist” in the name of a church I started for my own personal convictions. Many Presbyterians will say the same thing about being called Presbyterian because of their history and splits within the denomination. But for a lot of people the word “baptist” provides a sense of stability, or orthodoxy — a trustworthy organization for historically reliable Biblical teaching.

There are many different flavors of baptist churches, but to be “baptist” itself has essentially one distinctive, namely, baptists believe baptism is what the Greek word means, which is to “immerse in water,” rather than being sprinkled as a baby, and therefore what believers should do based on the command of Christ. Everything else that makes up a baptist is either historically Christian or historically evangelical. Anything else a church adds to this is not baptist, not necessarily wrong, but something other than baptist. I grew up thinking those baptists were people that didn’t believe in the gifts of the Spirit, or miracles have ceased, or that missions didn’t matter, but none of that is true. There is a joke among baptists that most “independent” or “non-denominational” churches are simply baptist churches without the name. Our church created a cool chart showing this which I thought was pretty nerdy and therefore awesome. “Historically Christian” means you can trace these all the way back to the early church fathers like Augustine.

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